RPGamer was fortunate enough to chat with Midway's Brian Lowe, producer of the upcoming PlayStation 2 RPG Shadow Hearts. The game was developed by Japanese developer Sacnoth, which previously worked on Koudelka for the PlayStation. Midway will be bringing the title to North America later next month.
RPGamer: What can you tell us about the characters and story of Shadow Hearts?
Brian Lowe: The Japanese Imperial Army is transporting a young girl named Alice
Eliot, the daughter of an expert exorcist, to China on a train. Mr. Roger
Bacon, a powerful magician, attempts to kidnap Alice believing that she is
the key to his master plan to unlock ancient secrets that'll destroy the
earth. Also on this train is Yuri, a young boy with the ability to morph
into many creatures. Yuri, witnessing the attempted kidnap, rescues Alice
and escapes with her.
The journey begins...the pursuit is on...and the story unfolds!
RPGamer: Can you describe the world in which Shadow Hearts takes place?
BL: Shadow Hearts starts in Rouen, France - circa 1913. As the pursuit
starts, the player will be led through various locales all over Europe and
Asia. What makes the world of Shadow Hearts unique is the cross
pollination of magic and fantasy with that of technology and logic.
RPGamer: Can you describe the combat system?
BL: Shadow Hearts is an RPG turn-based game that combines Final Fantasy-style
artwork with a unique battle system that is user controlled. Unlike typical
RPGs where the battle is automated after selecting an action (i.e.
attacking, casting spells, using items etc.), Shadow Hearts uses a
partially shaded "timing wheel", or the Judgement Ring, that rotates around
at a constant speed. The outcome of the event is solely dependent on where
the user stops the rotating bar within the shaded area.
RPGamer: What types of monsters will the party encounter?
BL: As the player travels the land of Shadow Hearts, they will come in
contact with seemingly normal denizens. As combat ensues, the inhabitants
change into monsters best described as H.P. Lovecraft's worst vision -
hideous monsters, powerful beings, and "things" from "other worlds."
Call of Cthulu and you get the picture.
RPGamer: Do any of the characters from Koudelka return in Shadow Hearts?
BL: Roger Bacon returns in a most interesting way....
RPGamer: Mitsuda is known for using a wide variety of musical styles in any
given project. Does his style mix well with the dark theme of the game?
BL: The music in Shadow Hearts is masterfully done. It works flawlessly with
the theme of the game to enhance the mood and sense of adventure.
RPGamer: In Japan, Koudelka featured English voice acting with subtitles, to add
authenticity to the setting. In keeping with this, can we expect to hear
French and Chinese in Shadow Hearts?
BL: The voice over in the game will be strictly English, with subtitles in
the translated languages.
RPGamer: Will Shadow Hearts feature any Side Quests/Mini-games that have become
prevalent in so many of today's games?
BL: Shadow Hearts has 2 endings, the second of which can only be reached
through a very long series of 'hidden'/'secret' quests. The gameplay can
go in excess of 60 hours, leaving the player with more than enough to drive
him forward. As for Mini-games, they do exist, and are integrated into the
game quite cleverly.
We would like to thank Brian Lowe for taking the time to talk with us. Shadow Hearts is set to hit shelves across North America on the 11th of December. Stay tuned for more info ahead of the release and a full review when the title hits stores.